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Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons – Mứt Dừa

Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons (Mứt Dừa) is a traditional Vietnamese sweet snack that consists of thin strips of toasted coconut coated with caramelized sugar. This delectable treat is frequently enjoyed as a dessert or snack and can also be used in various recipes. It has a unique flavor that is both sweet and fat thanks to the coconut and sugar mix. The sweet ribbons are easy to make and only require a few simple ingredients. With its delightful flavor, Mứt Dừa is sure to be a hit with your family or friends! 


  • 700-gram coconut (fresh old/young coconut/can of young coconut shreds in syrup)
  • 350-gram sugar
  • 1/2 lime or lemon
  • 100 ml milk
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 vanilla/ Food coloring and flavoring


To make Vietnamese Coconut Candies Ribbons, you will need the following equipment:

  • A big meat cleaver or a knife that is big and strong enough to open the coconut.
  • A bowl to catch the coconut liquid.
  • A small knife.
  • An Asian-style vegetable peeler.
  • A big non-stick fry pan.

Note: You don’t need to prepare the cleaver, bowl and small knife if you buy cans of coconut instead of fresh coconut.

How To Choose Coconut To Make Coconut Ribbons

There are multiple options for choosing the type of coconut. One option is to use a fresh coconut, which requires opening but delivers better results. Fresh coconuts come in two varieties: young coconuts, which are easier to open and more pliable, and old coconuts with their hard shells, which can be more challenging to open. 

If you prefer pliable candies, seeking out a young coconut is recommended, though finding one may pose some difficulty. Alternatively, you can opt for convenience by using a can of young coconut shreds in syrup, which is simple and easy but may not yield the same quality as fresh coconut.

For mature coconuts, look for ones that have the husk already removed, leaving only the coconut flesh, meat, and water inside. Ensure that the coconuts are not damaged or spoiled and opt for larger ones as they are easier to work with when separating the flesh and meat.

On the other hand, young coconuts are typically sold with the green husk intact. The green husk should still be fresh, firm, and green, although the green color may be slightly darker. It can be more challenging to anticipate the quality of the coconut inside based solely on the outer husk.

Alternatively, canned coconut can be conveniently purchased from a supermarket or store. Simply choose the variety that is made from young coconuts.


Open The Coconut

To make Vietnamese Coconut Candies Ribbons, you’ll need to open a mature or young coconut, depending on the type of coconut candy you prefer.

For mature coconuts with the husk removed:

  • Prepare a bowl to collect the coconut water.
  • Use your left hand to lift the lower part of the coconut.
  • With a large knife, hit the center of the coconut to create a crack. Remember to hit the knife perpendicular to the imaginary line connecting the top and bottom of the coconut, resembling Earth’s equator (It’s similar to the equator line on Earth, with the coconut’s top and bottom being the two poles).
  • Hit the coconut around 2-3 times with enough force to crack it open. Ensure a firm grip on the lower part of the coconut with your left hand while striking with the knife using your right hand. Be cautious to avoid the coconut falling out or accidentally hitting your hand.
  • Position the bowl beneath to catch the coconut water, which can be used for drinking.
  • Once the coconut has a sufficiently long crack (more than half of the coconut), use the tip of the knife to pierce into the crack and pry the two halves apart.

For young coconuts with the green husk intact:

  • If the coconut still contains water, chop the tip of the coconut and create a hole to extract the water.
  • After the coconut is emptied of water, place it on a stable surface.
  • Use a large knife to open the coconut by hitting it vertically. 
  • Unlike mature coconuts mentioned earlier, when opening a young coconut with the green husk, it’s best to hit it vertically. This is because the outer husk’s fibers run vertically from the tip to the base of the coconut. Therefore, if you were to cut horizontally, it would be challenging to break through the structure of the husk.

Make Coconut Ribbons

To create Vietnamese Coconut Candy Ribbons, begin by splitting a coconut into two pieces. Use a small knife to separate the coconut shells and meat, taking care to avoid damaging the meat. Insert the knife from the outer edge, rotate it around the shells, and be cautious with mature coconuts that may break easily. Do not worry if cracks appear on the coconut flesh, as they usually do not affect the taste.

After separating the meat from the shells, prepare a clean bowl of water. Use an Asian-style vegetable peeler or a small knife to remove the dark skin from the coconut meat. Rinse the coconut meat in clean water.

Once thoroughly rinsed, prepare to cut the coconut into ribbons. Using a small knife or vegetable peeler, slice the coconut meat into ribbons approximately 0.5cm thick. Avoid cutting them too thin, as the coconut may shrink during the process.

As you cut, place the coconut ribbons into the bowl of water. Keep cutting until you have completed the process, then rinse the strips a few more times until the water becomes clear.

Next, squeeze the juice of half a lime onto the coconut ribbons and continue rinsing. Lime juice helps whiten the coconut and remove any excess oil. Be careful not to use too much lime juice, as it can make the coconut tough.

After rinsing with lime juice, place the coconut strips in boiling water for a final rinse. This step ensures the coconut flesh is properly prepared and helps it last longer.

Once the rinsing is complete, allow the coconut flesh to drain the water. Now, you have the coconut ribbons ready to be used in making Vietnamese Coconut Candy Ribbons.

Instruction on How to Make Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons (Mứt Dừa)

To make Vietnamese Coconut Candy Ribbons, follow these steps:

Drain the coconut and add 1 tablespoon of salt and 350 grams of sugar. Make sure the coconut-to-sugar ratio is 2:1. 

Note: if you buy a can of coconut shreds in sugar syrup, it’s better to decrease the amount of sugar because it’s already sweet. 

Thoroughly mix the ingredients and let the mixture sit for about 4-5 hours, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Cover the mixture with food wrap to keep insects and dust away.

Once the sugar has dissolved and the coconut has absorbed the sugar solution, indicating it’s softer, start the caramelization process.

Use a thick pan to avoid overheating and burning the coconut during caramelization. Choose a sufficiently large pan for easier flipping of the coconut strands. Ideally, the pan should be filled about half with coconut. If the pan is too small, divide the coconut into multiple batches for caramelization. Remember to divide the amount of coconut water proportionally while maintaining the coconut-to-sugar ratio.

Initially, use high heat to bring the sugar to a quick boil. When the coconut is boiled, wait about 3-5 minutes, reduce the heat.

During the caramelization process, constantly flip the coconut strands gently to avoid breaking them. Lower the heat as the water reduces.

Continue caramelizing until the water has evaporated, and the coconut becomes sticky yet slightly moist. Then, add 100 ml of fresh milk. If you divide the coconut into batches, divide the fresh milk accordingly for enhanced creaminess. You can also add other flavors like coffee or food coloring if desired.

Cook the mixture on low heat until it turns frothy.

Spread the coconut mixture on a fan or sun-drying tray for approximately half an hour.

After half an hour of sun drying, store the coconut candy ribbons in a jar for preservation.

How to Store Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons (Mứt Dừa)

Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons can last for several months when stored properly. Put the coconut candy ribbons in an airtight jar and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

When desired, take out the amount you need and keep the rest in the jar. Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons can be used as a topping for ice cream, desserts, and drinks. 

Common Mistakes When Making Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons

Common Mistakes When Making Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons:

Insufficient and thorough preliminary processing: This can lead to the coconuts turning yellow instead of retaining their natural color. It is important to ensure proper processing before beginning the candy-making process.

Inconsistent or continuous turning of coconuts: When making candied coconut ribbons, it is crucial to consistently and continuously turn the coconuts during the roasting process. This ensures an even and uniform roasting, preventing any burnt or undercooked parts.

Excessive fire and burning of coconut: One common mistake is using excessive fire, which can cause the coconut to burn. It is important to exercise caution and maintain a calm approach while slowly roasting the coconuts. Setting the fire too high in a rushed manner can lead to undesirable results.

Choosing overly mature coconuts: Opting for overly mature coconuts can result in the coconut candies not solidifying properly. It is advisable to select coconuts that are at the right level of ripeness for the best outcome.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a successful and delicious batch of Vietnamese candied coconut ribbons.


How Long Do Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons Last?

When stored properly in an airtight container, Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons can last up to 3-4 months.

What Are The Best Coconuts To Use When Making Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons?

It depends. If you prefer the soft coconut, you should choose the young coconut. In contrast, the mature coconut makes the candies harder and crispier. Opt for coconuts at the right level of ripeness for the best results.

Should I Use The Non-Stick Pan Or Normal Pan To Make Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons?

It is recommended to use a thick non-stick pan for the caramelization process. This helps to prevent burning and sticking, making it easier to monitor the level of heat during the process. It also prevents any unpleasant odors due to overheating.

Why Is The Coconut Not Dry And Firm After Caramelizing?

This could be due to the coconut not retaining enough moisture or sugar. It is important to keep a 2:1 ratio of coconut to sugar and adjust it according to the textures desired. Additionally, it is crucial to use the correct level of heat for caramelizing and flipping the coconut properly throughout the process for a satisfactory outcome. 

Do I Need To Add Milk When Making Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons? 

Adding milk gives a creamy and milky taste to the candied coconut ribbons. It also helps to improve the texture of the coconut candy. For a vegan version, you can replace the regular milk with almond or soy milk instead. 

Final Thoughts

Vietnamese Candied Coconut Ribbons (Mứt Dừa) make for a delicious and traditional dessert that can be enjoyed any time of the year. Although making these candies may seem intimidating at first, with the correct ingredients and proper guidance, you can create delightful candy ribbons that are sure to impress your family and friends. Remember to use the right amount of coconut, sugar, heat, and flipping technique to get the desired results. Lastly, always remember to store it in an airtight container away from direct sunlight for prolonged freshness. Enjoy!